Seamer Steve Finn fired himself into contention for a place in England’s starting XI for the first Test against South Africa, which starts on Boxing Day, after a four-wicket haul on day one of their final warm-up clash.
Finn, who was initially ruled out of the tour with a foot injury, claimed 4-34 from 12 overs in Pietermaritzburg yesterday as South Africa A were dismissed for 136. All-rounder Ben Stokes weighed in with 3-25.
Opener Alex Hales then notched some confidence-boosting runs, finishing unbeaten on 28 after two scores of just eight in England’s first warm-up tussle, as the tourists reached the close on 64-0, with skipper Alastair Cook 36 not out.
“I felt good. I got into my rhythm and I’m hoping I can prove I can bowl 20-odd overs in the day and be fit for the first Test match,” said Finn, who has taken 102 Test wickets in 26 matches at an average of 28.
“You don’t want to be gung-ho, especially with the nature of the injury I have had, but at the moment I am very confident.
“We come into these warm-up games wanting to win them to get into good habits for the Test series and we’ve put ourselves in a very good position.”
Pace duo Stuart Broad and Mark Footitt took a wicket apiece as South Africa A’s main resistance came in the form of opener Stephen Cook, who carried his bat for 53 to pass 11,000 first-class runs.
England had earlier opted to select Finn’s Middlesex team-mate Nick Compton at No3 ahead of Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance, while Jonny Bairstow retained the wicketkeeping gloves ahead of Jos Buttler.